Redefining Resurrection, Part 2


As I said last time, some fundy atheists define “resurrection” so broadly that it would include even things like Michael Jackson in Thriller and Popeye eating spinach. Some of them play word games as part of that semantic expansion process, or appeal to irrelevancies to argue that there was some variation in Jewish beliefs about resurrection. Let’s look at some examples of texts they manipulate.

1 Enoch 25:6 …And they shall live a long life on earth, Such as thy fathers lived: And in their days shall no sorrow or plague or torment or calamity touch them.

One particularly strained reading of this passage claims that these resurrected parties die because they are compared to Old Testament figures such as Methusaleh, rather than living forever. The initial and obvious problem is that there’s nothing in the passage or surrounding it that indicates that there are people who were resurrected. Rather, these are the “righteous and the pious” who are permitted to eat from the tree of life. Self-evidently, if they are eating fruit, they are not dead people in need of resurrection. As Hobbins says in his essay, “Resurrection in Daniel and Other Writings at Qumran,” chapter 25 of 1 Enoch “may not present any aspect of the final destination of the righteous dead; it may describe only what God has in store for the righteous who are alive when he eliminates evil and corruption from the earth.” Resurrection is not found here except by gratuitous implication.

Another tactic to confuse the issue is to appeal to various speculations about the nature of the resurrection body found in various texts. For example, it may be pointed out that one text discusses how the resurrected will get to choose their own forms, while another text says that the resurrected will be consigned to either an eternal reward or eternal shame. Such appeals are interesting but spurious in the context of a discussion of the subject at hand: As I said previously, that Christianity’s claim that the process of resurrection was one reserved for the end of time, and for all men, all at once, and the resurrection of Jesus would have been a non-starter in Jewish contexts based on this alone. None of the appealed-to variations involve variations on the timing question; they are variations on questions of nature, process and ability.

Questions like these were a commonplace. Paul himself is addressing related concerns when he answers the question of what kind of body the dead will come in. However, there is nothing at all that shows any variation in belief regarding the timing of a collective resurrection.

As noted earlier, though, critics try to confuse this issue by defining all sorts of events as “resurrections” which are not. As I told C. Dennis McKinsey at one point, raisings like those performed by Elijah, Elisha and Jesus are not resurrections; the people did not return in glorified and immortal bodies. 9To which McKinsey made the amazing retort that maybe they did and it wasn’t mentioned!) It should be no wonder that scholars would not discuss these stories in the context of resurrection; that is exactly what they are not. No more so than Popeye. Perhaps the least ludicrous of these propositions is the argument that Herod must have thought John the Baptist was resurrected (Matt. 14:1-2). But really, we do not know what Herod thought; we do not know if he thought John was resurrected, or merely resuscitated. Given the context of the beliefs in question,. It is far more likely that he thought John has been resuscitated like Lazarus.

In the end, these exercises in semantic gerrymandering do more to illustrate how strained arguments against the historical Resurrection of Jesus have to get in order to try to persuade anyone who isn’t already worshipping at the altar of Carl Sagan.

Comments

Joe Hinman said…
Hey JP great follow t o the way too long BS between PX and I over res. I agree completely with your points. Their major approach is to distract with mi or issues like New body body vs revamped body. If when I get to heaven God says "hey Joe Pix is right it's a totally new body so prepare for body snatch, I'll take it.
Anonymous said…
JPH As I said previously, that Christianity’s claim that the process of resurrection was one reserved for the end of time, and for all men, all at once, and the resurrection of Jesus would have been a non-starter in Jewish contexts based on this alone.

Not sure if I am misreading this, as it looks like you are saying a general resurrection for all at the apocalypse would be a non-starter for Jews. From what I have seen on the issue, that looks to be exactly what the Pharisees believed.

On the other hand, what they expected of the messiah was a military leader who would leader them to victory against whoever the oppressor of the day was, and not one who would get crucified before striking a single blow. That is your non-starter.

JPH: However, there is nothing at all that shows any variation in belief regarding the timing of a collective resurrection.

So that would be an argument from silence then?

The sad fact is we have precious little about what Jews believed at the time with regards to the resurrection. The NT is actually the best source on the Pharisees, and clearly had no need to be flattering or accurate. And we do know the Sadducees had a very different view of the resurrection, so I find this claim of a monolithic belief to be dubious.

Joe: Their major approach is to distract with mi or issues like New body body vs revamped body.

Irrelevant to JPH's post, so I will not get into it here, but what makes that so important is how it connects to the Empty Tomb. That said, I will suggest that the other resurrections (resuscitations?) were in the revamped original body, and so quite different in nature to Jesus.
Joe Hinman said…
JPH As I said previously, that Christianity’s claim that the process of resurrection was one reserved for the end of time, and for all men, all at once, and the resurrection of Jesus would have been a non-starter in Jewish contexts based on this alone.

PixNot sure if I am misreading this, as it looks like you are saying a general resurrection for all at the apocalypse would be a non-starter for Jews. From what I have seen on the issue, that looks to be exactly what the Pharisees believed.

No he means the r of Jesus because it did not come at the of time and only raised one guy (or maybe a few but not all of fallen Israel) would have been suspect to the Jews as a proof of Messiah,.

Joe: Their major approach is to distract with mi or issues like New body body vs revamped body.


Pix Irrelevant to JPH's post, so I will not get into it here, but what makes that so important is how it connects to the Empty Tomb. That said, I will suggest that the other resurrections (resuscitations?) were in the revamped original body, and so quite different in nature to Jesus.

You like getting your ass kicked hu? I only chew my spinach once,
J. P Holding said…
>>>Not sure if I am misreading this, as it looks like you are saying a general resurrection for all at the apocalypse would be a non-starter for Jews.

You are misreading it. I said exactly the opposite. May I suggest a literacy and comprehension course?

>>>The sad fact is we have precious little about what Jews believed at the time with regards to the resurrection.

It's more than enough. If it isn't, then Richard Carrier's books should all be nothing but blank pages.

>>>The NT is actually the best source on the Pharisees, and clearly had no need to be flattering or accurate.

And what bearing does this have on the issue at hand? NONE. It's just well-poisoning, and there's no evidence of distorted views on this point.

>>>And we do know the Sadducees had a very different view of the resurrection, so I find this claim of a monolithic belief to be dubious.

That's too bad for you, since playing dumb is all you have rather than actual evidence. And as noted, this would have no bearing on variations of views on timing.

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